travel

Thai Island Paradise Retreat: Koh Mak

I am hesitant to write this blog in fear of tarnishing the tranquil perfection that is the Thai island of Koh Mak during the low season.Intermittent torrential downpours and cloudy days failed to discourage me and my two friends from enjoying the plentiful near-empty beaches, swim spots, and jungle treks available to us. It truly felt like our own private paradise.

Apparently, the vibe changes during the high season. According to one of the main owners of the island, one stretch of the island is allowed to have resorts, restaurants and bars, which cater to tourists during the high season from October through April.

But we were there at the end of May and early June, long after the majority of tourists had vacated the island.

Because it is only 16 square kilometers in size, we were able to bike everywhere. We saw the entire island and got an amazing work out along the way. It’s hilly but less so than the other islands I’ve visited, such as Koh Chang, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao.

Our accommodations were superb. The three of us shared a suite at Goodtime Resort with  king and twin beds, a huge balcony, and outdoor kitchen, where we created raw vegan spreads each night for dinner. The staff was incredibly helpful and accommodating.

One challenge was fruit, but we were able to turn it into a game. There are less than half a dozen spots on the whole island to buy fruit, and you bet your ass, we visited just about all of them daily on bikes usually covered in mud from the morning rains.

The island has an organic farm, which seemed to be closed down for the low season. Otherwise, farms were limited to rubber and pineapple plantations as well as a small coconut oil operation. Most of what we bought was from the nearby city of Trat on the mainland.

We managed to find mangoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, rambutan, papaya, watermelon, pineapple, and even durian! There was a period of several days in a row when the main fruit stand was closed due to high seas, and we sort of panicked about how we would get by. We foraged mangoes and coconut sprouts, and managed quite well.

To prevent any future shortages, we bought in bulk. Most vendors took pity on us carting all the fruit in our backpacks on our bikes, so they offered free or nearly free delivery to our resort. From their laughs and quizzical expressions, they did not understand why we needed so much fruit but were super happy for the business nonetheless.

Each day began with a morning run followed by yoga overlooking the ocean. I remember those mornings fondly as I stared out into the sea during my asanas. My morning chants harmonized with the sounds of the frogs and birds.Then, we typically breakfasted on the balcony with cool watermelon. Sometimes we watched a storm roll in. Other times, we admired the sunlight illuminating the tropical trees and distant waves.

Afterwards, we relaxed and rallied energy to go fruit finding! Usually, we bought fruit for lunch and bike it to a beach or make smoothie bowls at our suite. Did I mention we had a blender? Ask and you shall receive 😉

Afternoons normally consisted of swims to nearby islands. Other times, we hiked to more remote beaches. We also rented kayaks and went snorkeling.

Each night we retired early for dinner before sunset on the balcony followed by a movie. We were fortunate enough to have access to an array of Western movies in English!Those island times were seriously peaceful vibes. I feel so blessed in looking back on those days.

I am grateful to have deepened my friendship with my fellow travelers and to have continued the retreat style atmosphere that we enjoyed together in Chanthaburi. It was nice to experience the organized retreats in May, but was even nicer to create a more intimate, customized experience with good friends.

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